A SPECIAL ARTICLE ON THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE OF H.O.M.E. GERMANY
The interview with Christian Benini, founder and art director of Wall&decò, on the comeback of wallpaper and its decorative power through the main phases of the brand's history.
Read the full text:
The comeback of wallpaper.
The wall decor celebrates its rebirth: wallpaper is back and seems younger than before.
H.O.M.E. Originally advertising photographer, his idea to found Wall&decó was born by chance. Could you please tell us how it happened?
C.B: Eleven years ago, I had to do a photo shoot of some bags and I had the idea to create a leaf pattern as background. I took photographs of large leaves, then I multiplied and printed them on canvas. Only afterwards I evaluated the background potential in the decorating sector. I showed the pattern to an architect that I knew and he liked it so much that he proposed me to exhibit my work in his sales point. Everything began from there.
H.O.M.E. Do your collections stand out from traditional wallpaper?
C.B: The success of the brand was fairly immediate because what is considered today normal, almost banal, it was an absolute novelty 11 years ago: not the repetition of patterns and geometrical shapes that are typical elements in traditional wallpaper, but macro-images of strong material effect, re-proportioned each time on the wall.
H.O.M.E. Do you perceive your collection as an element of interior design?
H.O.M.E.Wall decoration had been outdated for a long time. How do you explain its comeback?
C.B: I believe that the wallpaper comeback was physiological. Fashion and design are cyclical – and in my opinion, unfortunately, recycled sometimes. Fortunately, it was different for wallpaper: the decorative meaning that the wallpaper embodied was recovered, however with completely different supports and new printing techniques – e.g. digital print – that allowed introducing several innovative decorative options.
H.O.M.E. Do we live in an age where decoration coincides with our concept of time?
C.B: Certainly our homes and the way we dress reflect modern society – and more in general our concept of time. Decoration is once again legitimised – and wallpaper, more than other products, falls in this new world because of its purely decorative and ornamental function.
H.O.M.E. You are the creative director of the company. Does your photographer background influence the collection design? Do you still draw?
C.B: Yes, I continue to design part of the collection. I always start from a photographic approach, since it was my initial passion and vocational training.
H.O.M.E. Artists, illustrators, designers and architects: you collaborate with various creatives. How do you choose them?
C.B: I like collaborating with artists and designers able to interpret heterogeneous creative experiences: from charcoal drawing to wall panting, from printing on fabric to photographic image, from 3D graphics to engraving. Everything can become pattern on a wall, creating unexpected visual effects.
H.O.M.E Are there any timeless colours, shapes or patterns?
C.B: In my opinion, white and black are timeless. It is interesting to see how white and black graphics, if interpreted with current colour trends, can create completely different atmospheres compared to those originally thought. I believe that the strength of wallpaper lies more in the wise use of colour rather than in its shape.
H.O.M.E. Are there any recurrent misconceptions? How can they be avoided?
C.B: There is a fairly widespread trend: we believe that a wallpaper is "forever" - thus often choosing soft and "safe" options, without indulging in the possibility to dare with audacious colours or patterns that suit us but that we are afraid may bore us in time.
H.O.M.E. How do you describe the good taste of today? Design has been characterised for years by minimalism that was always embodying a sort of elegance. It was somewhat easy to have good taste without crossing the line of bad taste. Today instead, with the decoration comeback, good taste is more "precarious" because based on balances between solid and empty, between colour and non-colour. Therefore, it is more difficult to find the right solution, but, once it is reached, it embodies a new type of elegance.